The development of a pro fiber PAC—Lafayette Yes!—is covered in articles in today’s Independent and Advocate. Both articles cover the basics of what looks to be the major money-raising arm of the campaign to bring fiber to the home in Lafayette. Headed by Kaliste Saloom III, the newly formed PAC will focus on making the media buys advocating a yes vote that the city, restricted by state law, cannot.
The Independent article, “Release the Hounds: Dueling fiber media campaigns get rolling” focuses on providing background. It notes the slow but definite lift-off of the corporate BellSouth/Cox campaigns. Steve Creeden, former Cox employee, reveals Cox’s ability to rapidly expand its ad campaign by using spots it normally reserves as promotions and gimmes for its advertising staff. The use of such advertising space would effectively mean that Cox, at least, would have to spend very little money out-of-pocket—and that anyone who’d like to track how much Cox is actually spending would have to track the in-house ad usage very closely.
An unexpected grass roots organization is also afoot to promote the fiber initiative. Don Bertrand, a local landman who also serves on the parish Republican Executive Committee, is collecting personal endorsements on his newly formed Web site Fibre911.com., and has 100 volunteers. He sees the pro-fiber stance creating strange bedfellows. “We’re going to have people from the local Democratic Party and people from the local Republican Party,” Bertrand says. “We’re going to have UL students. We’re going to have people in neighborhoods. I don’t think this is going to be your regular campaign crowd. It’s going to have its own unique characteristics. We’re not for an individual here. We’re voting for an idea, a vision.”
The Advocate article, Fiber optics PAC created, covers some of the same ground. Like the Independent’s article, the Advocate’s emphasizes issues of local pride and a certain ‘we can just do this for ourselves’ spirit on the part of the pro-fiber partisans.
Opponents of the plan, like BellSouth, Cox Communications and a group called Fiber 411, have said the LUS plan is too risky, not fair to their particular businesses and better left to the private sector.
Saloom said many of those same arguments have been made over the decades when private companies have tried to buy LUS from Lafayette residents.
Saloom’s father, retired City Judge Kaliste Saloom Jr., was city attorney in 1949 when voters rejected such an overture from private business and decided instead to borrow money to expand LUS’ services.
The situation is much the same today, Saloom said.
In sum: You definitely come away from these articles with the sense that Lafayette will be prepared to answer the media onslaught to come, if not dollar for dollar, then at least with a lot of local spirit.